Marie Boyd-Johnson, 97, of Orange, has spent her life doing what she loved to do —sew.

She began sewing when she was eight years old. But, her mother wouldn’t let her use a sewing machine. The determined girl then   used a needle and thread instead to make her dolls some clothes.

Johnson made clothes for 15 dolls for the Salvation Army’s toy drive. Each of the dolls she made clothes for this year has the possibility of outfit combinations. Using her own creation of patterns, Johnson made for each doll a pair of pants, a shirt, skirt, shawl and a bonnet. Each piece is held together with velcro.

“They need dolls and I like to sew,” Johnson said.

Johnson has been making the clothes for the dolls for more than 20 years. She initially found out about the needs of the Salvation Army after reading something in the local newspaper. Johnson not only sews for the Salvation Army, but also the Rainbow Room which is operated by Child Protective Services.

For more than 25 years, the dolls have been dressed by individuals, local civic and church organizations. In addition to dolls, some people have chosen to make clothes for bears. The dolls and bears are provided by the Salvation Army to be dressed. The dolls start out basically the same with the exception of hair color and skin tone. When completed, the dolls are taken to the Salvation Army to be displayed and judged. They are later given to little girls to be a loved and cherished Christmas gift.

Johnson made doll clothes and clothes for her children and now her great-grandchildren. The former fifth grade and remedial reading teacher also used her sewing skills to help her students. Johnson who taught school for more than 40 years sewed together the pages of books so her students would have their own special books to read. This served as useful tool to encourage reading.

The Doll Tea at the Salvation Army, located at 1950 Martin Luther King Drive, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 4. The ladies mission of the Salvation  Army is responsible for the tea this year.

Before the guests arrive, the dolls will be judged by three judges. They will have ribbons placed on them for first, second and third place. The various categories include most outstanding doll, bridal wear, evening wear, Sunday best, school attire, sleep-time, play-time and costumes.

Following the awards, light refreshments will be served.

Marie Boyd-Johnson, 97, of Orange, has made the clothes for 15 dolls for the Salvation Army Doll Tea. The dolls will later be given to area girls as a Christmas gift. The Doll Tea at the Salvation Army, located at 1950 Martin Luther King Drive, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 4. RECORD PHOTO: Debby Schamber